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NSF funds teacher prep program

MIT has just received an $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to enhance and develop teacher preparation courses for students who will teach math and science in grades 7-12.

MIT is part of a collaborative called TEAMS-BC (Teacher Education Advancing Math and Science in Boston and Cambridge)--led by Harvard University--which received a total grant of $5 million over five years. TEAMS-BC also includes University of Massachusetts-Boston, Wheelock College, and the Boston and Cambridge public school systems, as well as MIT's Teacher Preparation Program (see Tech Talk, July 31, 1994).

Additional goals of the grant are to encourage an active relationship between teacher preparation programs and the math and science faculty at the participating universities and to create 10 professional development sites-schools in Boston and Cambridge where teachers will serve as mentors to MIT student interns. MIT students will be placed primarily at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and the Graham and Parks junior high schools in Boston.

"We envisage our students becoming individuals who will be competent to teach in their field, who are not afraid to challenge established norms, who are eager and able to bridge disciplinary boundaries, who can think on their feet and who have the ability to stimulate students and others with the eagerness to question and to be innovative in their solution to new problems," said Jeanne Bamberger, professor of music, who heads the Teacher Preparation Program along with Professor Susan Carey of brain and cognitive sciences.

With the grant, TEAMS-BC will redesign teacher preparation curricula, field experiences and selected science and math courses to reflect current research on teaching and learning and to encourage cross-disciplinary conversation.

According to the grant, the project will be structured to ensure the continual participation of scientists, science educators, mathematicians, math educators and classroom teachers to effect a change in the content and delivery of K-12 science and math courses and curriculum.

A faculty member will be appointed in each MIT department in which education students are likely to be majors. These faculty members will be program coordinators and will advise students in the program.

An oversight committee, largely comprised of the departmental coordinators, will evaluate the effectiveness of the program content and further its integration into the undergraduate curriculum. Committee members will also occasionally act as math and science advisors to TEAMS-BC.

MIT faculty will work with other members of TEAMS-BC to design teacher preparation programs, explore "teaching for understanding," and cooperate in the development of coherent math and science curricula from the earliest years of schooling through college.

NSF has funded these efforts under its Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation program. Earlier support came from the Class of '52 Fund and the MIT Council for Primary and Secondary Education.

MIT's grant will be administered by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning because the faculty there are working on many issues related to the inner cities, said Professor Bish Sanyal, department head.

"The program takes very seriously our responsibility to communities in the inner city," said Professor Bamberger.

A version of this article appeared in the December 7, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 14).

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